iPhone customers dump on AT&T in Consumer Reports survey

Sprint, Verizon neck and neck in customer satisfaction, U.S. Cellular a surprise leader

Apple iPhone users made their displeasure known with AT&T in the latest Consumer Reports wireless carrier satisfaction survey, resulting in a last place finish for the carrier.

AT&T also finished last a year ago, with its voice service and price taking a beating in the survey

Consumer Reports says AT&T was the only carrier in this year's survey of 58,000 readers to drop significantly in overall satisfaction, and labeled AT&T as "the worst carrier." 

More than half of survey respondents who used AT&T as a carrier owned an iPhone and they were particularly dissatisfied with AT&T's data service (not that this has stopped customers for signing on with AT&T.) Overall, AT&T scored 60 out of 100 points.

Such dissatisfaction has fueled constant speculation that Apple will end its exclusive carrier deal with AT&T in the United States and branch out to at least Verizon. This is despite AT&T pumping an additional $2 billion into its wireless network than it did the year before. Some expect Apple and Verizon to pair up when the iPhone 5 debuts next year.

"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans," said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, in a statement. Consumer Reports is posting full survey results on its website Tuesday for subscribers.

(The iPhone itself continues to win rave reviews from customers, most recently coming out on top of a ChangeWave Research smartphone customer satisfaction survey.)

Relatively low profile carrier U.S. Cellular beat out Verizon Wireless for overall satisfaction among carriers for contract service and boasted an overall customer satisfaction score of 82 out of 100. And while Verizon still rated high overall at 74, Sprint essentially tied it, reversing some poor customer satisfaction ratings from recent years. 

Sprint's strong showing is consistent with other customer satisfaction survey results released this year

Verizon may be poised to boost its ratings next year with a new LTE service announced last week that should challenge AT&T, T-Mobile and others on the 4G wireless front. 

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